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12/03/14 4:00am
12/03/2014 4:00 AM |

Photo courtesy of Criterion

 

Robert Altman

December 3-January 17 at MoMA

Cinematic retrospectives are the original mode of binge-watching. Fassbinder famously “discovered” Sirk in this manner during a 1970 Viennese series, serving as the catalyst for some of the German enfant terrible’s best work. Before Netflix series-drops at midnight or torrents, art consumption in bulk required significantly more dedication and interest. And while cases can clearly be made for the 21st century brand of insta-everything, there’s still something to relish about a survey course as grand and exhaustive as MoMA’s Robert Altman series, presenting all of the irascible maverick’s work from his early days as a hired hand on Alfred Hitchcock Presents to the cinematic groundbreaking of masterworks as diverse as Nashville, 3 Women and Gosford Park. Perhaps more than most directors, Altman’s kalaidescopic tapestries of American modernity are best shown on the big screen, where his signature long shots and voyeuristic, observational style can creep into the viewer’s psyche the way it was meant to, subtly and without incidence.

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